Embryonic. It is defined as “of a system, idea, or organization) in a rudimentary stage with potential for development.”
The idea has been conceived. We have life, as it were. An embryo of thought, birthed of action and imagination.
This embryo now needs to be nurtured, fed, protected, strengthened.
Of course, it is not really an embryo. But it might as well be. If nothing else, it is a good metaphor through which to see the beginning of the Design Forum. It really is embryonic. That might be difficult to believe after tooling around with this idea since 2010, and spending the last three months of 2014 on the epic quest of the 10 City Bridge Run.
But yes, we have arrived at our destination: the Design Forum! And it is at the beginning! I especially think it is important to let this conversation develop organically. It is a real conversation, not a formal conference.
We are literally waiting to hear from you. I have my own thoughts about which way the conversation will be fashioned, but the wisdom of the crowd is far smarter than any one of us. It will be a journey that is as deliberate as it is serendipitous.
We do know what happens when an embryo grows. Granted, there is not a lot of room for serendipity there. But that is why the metaphor of an embryo is powerful.
Apparently when a butterfly transforms from a caterpillar inside its cocoon, it has what are called imaginal cells that transmutate and allow it to shape-shift. This strange alchemy of the imaginal cells is something which could also transform the Design Forum. Who amongst us can unlock the imaginal cells to morph into a spectacular butterfly-like recreation?
How radical will we let our ideas become? It could just be you we are waiting for. Let’s begin.
Straight up, the reasons for all of the delays, and all of the amendments in my route since leaving Australia have related to resources. Money.
It seems so crass, and I don’t know why it is such an obstacle for me to address, but it is.
It is my intention to take the next steps by flying to London, then onto Glasgow on Saturday. Flying direct to Glasgow would be too expensive.
I will work out the rest of the journey once I get to Glasgow, but it is important to note that I am now committed to this journey.
My brothers funeral is in Melbourne, and it is now outside of my reach to return for that. And so I must honour him by moving forward.
But this journey is not actually about me, and it is neither about my brother.
My brother has come to represent the issue of child survival for me in some respects. His son died 36 hours after birth due to medical complications. Even with the best possible medical support, we can’t cheat death. That said, he battled and for a time won in the fight against leukaemia. Ultimately, it was an aggressive infection that caused his death. The body is robust as it is fragile. And this journey is about the most vulnerable among us: children during their first five years.
If you listen to Bill Gates, you soon realise that child survival is not just about saving babies. Child survival is important because it is one of the key levers in the struggle to move countries out of extreme poverty. It is counter-intuitive. It would seem reasonable that reducing child mortality would just lead to overpopulation, but an analysis of historical trends shows that the opposite is true. Improved child survival leads to healthier and more sustainable communities.
Presently, I am embarked on a running stunt to paint a narrative for the journey ahead. I am running 10 sub-marathons each of 24 km in 10 cities across 10 countries. To date, I have completed seven of these runs and have three cities remaining. That brings be back to this issue of resources. I have the will, but the cost is prohibitive presently.
But why run? Why not just talk about it and solve the problem? The reality is that there are so many competing demands, and our understanding of the issue has been in some cases so poorly framed by the marketing spin of large not-for-profits, that a strong narrative is needed to look at this afresh.
More than that, this initiative is different. I am asking how might we use our networks to make a difference. It is not simply a case of leaning on governments, large philanthropists, or the aid agencies for that matter. All existing efforts in the fight for child survival are essential. But I do believe there is more we can do, and so that is why this series of Design Forum will take place.
The Design Forum will be held in each of the cities that I run in. The running is pathfinding the way ahead.
How badly do I want this?
Ultimately, that will coming down to asking people for their support. There is no way around that. The question is, what will the conversation be, and what will I do in exchange for their support.
After the last crowdfunding effort ended, it seemed clear that I had tapped out my networks. I was done. Or so it seemed.
My thinking is this: I need to stick with what I have. Sharpen it up. Explain it better. And give it all I have got. Really give of myself.
I am seriously wanting to address child survival. I am also excruciatingly sensitive to the fact that many people have generously given amounts to support this already. And their generosity alone is reason enough to continue.
I think given all of the events of the past two weeks, and the fact that it is brothers funeral tomorrow, I should recommit to a final crowdfunding campaign, with the amounts I am asking of people capped at small levels. Something like the opportunity to buy my brother a coffee for the last time, or to shout me Christmas dinner as I will be running across the festive season and intending to be back in Australia to celebrate New Year with my mum. I think I need to let people help define what this might involve.
That means I am looking at many people contributing small amounts of something like $5 or $24. And there would be something in exchange, but I don’t want to make it transactional.
Would it be too much to ask for 400 or so people do each contribute $24 across the next two weeks?
So this is my ask: please let me know what you think. I intend to post tonight, and somehow during the period of my brothers funeral, it would be awesome if we could spread the love to those who are able to support so that together we can make a difference. Forwarding an email or post to someone who wants to help is part of the team too, you know.
Let’s make this count. We are going to do it for all of us. Let’s roll.